SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) – People are gravitating toward a number of novel workout regimens these days, but only one of them can claim the distinction of being the first sport to ever spread across the world through YouTube.
It was made famous on the big screen, made slightly infamous on the internet, and made fun of on “The Office”; Now, parkour is ready to pull off its next trick.
The practice involves jumping, vaulting, rolling and scaling over, under and around obstacles, allowing participants greater freedom to move throughout their environment.
“Essentially, you’ve hit mainstream. It’s not just a YouTube sensation, people want to learn it,” explained Elle Beyer, who just opened Free Flow Academy, the first parkour gym in Northern California.
Mainstream parkour doesn’t look like what is often seen in the movies or on the Internet, it’s a bit more fundamental.
“I saw the videos, just like everybody else,” said Marisa Lee, a parkour student in San Francisco.
So did Troy Angrignon who saw it on the web first. Now, they’re taking classes on a Saturday morning at Dolores Park. And they’re taking lessons from a guy who used to spend his weekends sitting in front of a computer.
“I wasn’t super physical, wasn’t really athletic, but I had a lot of energy. When I found parkour, it was just a way to play,” explained Albert Kong of Parkour Connections, a San Francisco parkour group.
Just outside of Sacramento, Free Flow Academy is barely two weeks old and it has already outgrown its space. Beyer, who is hoping to expand her facility, said she is “seeing a lot of similar trends in the parkour community as what happened in the martial arts community in the 1970s.”
Of course, there are some casualties.
“I fell a few feet down, and put all my impact on my wrist. It should heal in four more weeks,” explains Ivan Flores, showing off a neon green arm cast. Moments later he could be seen performing a forward flip off of a railing on the campus of U.C. Berkeley.
When you see parkour for the first time, it’s easy to make the connection between martial arts or gymnastics, but the essence of what this sport is really about is seeing the world differently.
“It lets me play outside and have fun. You get to be a kid again, run around, jump on stuff, climb trees,” said Angrignon.
“The human body can do so many things,” said Kong. “There’s a lot of potential in our bodies, and I want to open that up.”
(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)